(There will be no EMEA-focused emerging markets report on Dec 25, 28 on account of Christmas and Boxing Day; Reuters will resume coverage from Dec 29)

* Turkey c.bank hikes rate by 200 bps

* U.S. plans fresh sanctions on Russia

* EM currencies firm against soft dollar (Updates prices)

By Shashank Nayar

Dec 24 (Reuters) – The Turkish lira jumped to a five-week high on Thursday after a bigger-than-expected interest rate hike that raised investors confidence about the central bank’s ability to bring inflation under control.

The lira firmed over 1% to as much as 7.5420 per U.S. dollar compared to the previous close of 7.6361. The currency was last trading at 7.5691.

The central bank hiked rates by 200 points to 17% in order to cool double-digit inflation and record dollarization as new Governor Naci Agbal sought to bolster its policy credibility.

The tightening follows a hefty hike of 475 points last month in a bid to permanently lower inflation, which stood at 14% in November.

“It is a strong signal that the central bank is fully committed to rein in inflation,” said Piotr Matys, senior emerging markets FX strategist at Rabobank. “This bodes well for the lira and supports our view that the Turkish currency has the potential to extend its gains in 2021 beyond the 7.00 level versus the dollar.”

The lira has been among the worst hit developing world currencies – down about 23% this year and dropping to a record low at one point – as a surge in coronavirus cases brought lockdowns, and investors worried about high inflation rates and depleting foreign exchange reserves.

Most other EM currencies firmed against a slightly weaker dollar as hopes of an imminent Brexit trade deal between Britain and the European Union boosted appetite for risky assets.

Russia’s rouble gained 0.9% but risks of new sanctions against the country and a dip in oil prices checked further gains.

South Africa’s rand slipped, however, as improving global sentiment was offset by a rapidly worsening fresh COVID-19 wave at home and the discover of a new variant of the virus.

The health ministry reported the highest-ever daily increase in coronavirus cases and is also contemplating fresh lockdowns to limit the spread.

MSCI’s index of emerging market stocks rose 0.4% in light pre-Christmas trading as investors placed bets on global economic recovery prospects in 2021.

For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance in 2020, see http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance in 2020, see https://tmsnrt.rs/2OusNdX

For TOP NEWS across emerging markets

For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

For TURKISH market report, see

For RUSSIAN market report, see (Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru and Karin Strohecker in London; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Toby Chopra)

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